Apertura and Clausura is a league format used by Latin American football leagues. This format involves having two separate leagues with its own corresponding champion during the August to May season. The Apertura and Clausura are Spanish for the words opening and closing.
The league format is considered a recent innovation for many football leagues under Latin America. In French-speaking Haiti, they use Ouverture and Fermeture for the same league format while Belize uses Opening and Closing seasons. For Canada and the United States, Apertura and Clausura are known as the spring and fall seasons.
Apertura and Clausura in the Americas
The opening or the Apertura in the Americas is held during the first half of the year in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Haiti as well as in Colombia and Bolivia. During the second half of the year, it is held in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Honduras as well as in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.
Although the majority of the Latin American countries used the term Apertura and Clausura, there are some who used other variations like Colombia which uses Apertura and Finalizacion. Costa Rica also refers to the league as Invierno and Verano which means winter and summer.
As mentioned, each tournament of the two divisions comes with a national championship. This is true for the majority of the leagues except for Peru, Nicaragua, and Uruguay wherein the champions of the Apertura and Clausura are engaged in a playoff to determine the winner for the season. These countries also come up with a final stage wherein qualifications are based on the standing of the team during the Apertura and Clausura. This kind of mechanism results in three championship titles that are awarded per year. The two are awarded in the first group of leagues while the third is given during the second group of leagues.
In addition, leagues with fewer teams or those that have 12 teams or less hold a double round-robin format for their Apertura and Clausura. The reason behind this is to fill in the gaps that might be caused when elimination rounds are done. For leagues with more teams, a tournament follows a single-round robin format.